Devlin Community May Be Delayed Until Applicant Submits Changes

| October 10, 2018 | 0 Comments | News

Devlin Rezoning Aerial Map, courtesy of Prince William County Planning Department.

While there will likely be new residential community along Devlin Road in Bristow in the area once slated to be Stone Haven, it may only slightly resemble the current proposal.

The Prince William Planning Commission recommends the community, but its recommendation is contingent upon the applicant making substantial changes to the neighborhood’s design.

With so many changes in the works, it may be a while before the Prince William Board of Supervisors for a public hearing and vote, giving community members time to weigh in on the issue.

Stone Haven become the Devlin Community 

The Devlin Community, located on 269 acres approximately between Devlin Road and Piney Branch Elementary, in what was once to be “Stone Haven,” includes 551 single-family stand-alone units. (Stone Haven included 1006 homes in its final proposal and 1650 homes in its initial proposal.)

The overall density was proposed at 2.23 homes per acres, but homes would sit on less than ¼ of an acre. Some lots will be as small as 6,000 square feet: smaller than lots in surrounding communities.

The zoning designation, from A1, Agricultural and PMR, Mixed Use to SRL, Suburban Residential Low, is in accordance with the county’s comprehensive plan.

The new community will not be “mixed use,” meaning it will not include a business or commercial sector. The staff report considers this as a weakness as it does not help the tax base.

A positive is the development meets recommended proffer levels from 2014, which the county can no longer require of developers. Proffers include road improvement, money for schools, fire & rescue, public safety and libraries. This aspect pleased the Planning commission.

Road improvements proffered include the extension of the eastbound left turn lane on Linton Hall Road at the intersection with Devlin Road; a new traffic signal at the intersection of University Boulevard and Devlin Road and a signal at the intersection of Fog Light Way and Devlin Road if warranted.

There will be a right of way from Devlin Road to North of University Boulevard, but University Boulevard would be partially extended within the development and through Sheffield Manor, not to Sudley Manor Drive. Additionally, the developer only agreed to proffer part of the extension.

For future residents, the development will feature a clubhouse, pool, tot lots and a tennis court or multi-use court. It will have sidewalks or walkways and connect to new and existing walking trails through the Bristow community. There will be walkways making Bristow Commons Shopping Center accessible to residents.

There will be open space, but much of it will be encumbered by electrical lines. Additionally, the developer had planned 43 lots next to a utility easement.

The homes will be located close to a fire station, but the influx new residents would leave fire and rescue in the county at overcapacity.

Planning Commission’s, Elected Officials’ Take on the Development 

By a 6-1 vote with one abstention, the Planning Commission approved the development with a list of recommendation.

The most significant of these changes include moving 43 lots farther from existing high-voltage power lines; increasing the minimum lot size from 6,000 to 10,000 square feet; and boosting quality open space to 30 percent. The changes, if implemented, would likely result in a fewer number of homes on the site. (A full list is provided at the end of the article.)

Brentsville Commissioner Patti McKay voted in opposition to the development after she could not garner enough support for delaying it. She said she liked the reduction in the number of homes from Stone Haven but felt the county could not at this time bear the new residents.

While the staff report predicted approximately 500 new students, she said that could be off by as much of 50% by their own measures. And although the nearby 13th high school is scheduled to open in 2021, the division is predicting it will be over capacity within the first few years of its opening. Meanwhile, Chris Yung Elementary School and Gainesville Middle School, also in the immediate area, are expected to be overcrowded within the coming years with no plans to relieve those schools.

Additionally, the applicant has not proffered any land upon which to build a new school.

Gainesville school board representative Alyson Satterwhite stated her opposition to the development on Facebook on the day of the planning meeting.

This project would add over 500 densely built single-family homes near Devlin Road. Our school system is already overcrowded. More development like this negatively impacts the entire school division and the educational opportunities of every student. I strongly encourage the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors to oppose this project.

However, McKay said she is not in complete opposition to the development. She wants the homes to have a little more property and farther from power lines. Most importantly, she would prefer the community improve its infrastructure before adding more development.

“It’s the timing,” she said, sitting down with Stacy Shaw of Bristow Beat. “At some time it’s going to be residential. Improve our infrastructure for schools and roads before we add more houses.”

She suggests delaying the project until roads are extended and the 13th High School is built rather than overburdening schools even more.“These are our citizens, let us represent our citizens,” McKay said, and she would like to see if they can get a Smart Scale state funds to lessen the cost for the county.

Brentsville Supervisor Jeanine Lawson has expressed she has concerns about schools and roads as well. She opposed Stone Haven back in 2015, noting the area did not need new residential development to tax heavily on schools.

Lawson provided this statement:

At this time, I have significant concerns about the current application’s impacts on Devlin Road. and other local roads in our transportation network, impacts to schools and the impact of the small lot sizes being out of character with the surrounding neighborhoods.

I repeatedly made my concerns known to the applicant at multiple meetings. I will continue to evaluate the application, including the proposed changes suggested by the Planning Commission.

It is very important that citizens understand that the changes in the Planning Commission motion to recommend approval are merely suggestions and not proffered changes. The applicant can completely disregard such suggestions.

The final vote is with the Board of County Supervisors.

McKay said there was not a big turnout at the Planning Commission hearing. She would like citizens to take a more active role in expressing their concerns, saying, after all, it is their community. They should feel empowered to speak up.

Here is the complete list of items the Planning Commission would like the applicant to consider before the Board of County Supervisors public hearing:
– Increase lot sizes to be comparable to the surrounding communities of Sheffield Manor, Lanier Farms – 10,000 SF lot minimum.
– Revise the schools impact statement in light of all that is occurring with the CIP to reflect the current state.
– Transportation proffer – Complete Devlin Road improvements before occupancy permits are issued for other landbays (before occupancy of units in 2nd landbay).
– Consider the construction of a trail along Devlin Road from University Blvd. to Linton Hall Rd.
– Reword Proffer #13 – Eminent domain language to be revised to require payment of LOS $ in the event the road cannot be built because of inability to obtain necessary Right of Way.
– Provide inter-parcel connection to Bristow Commons shopping center.
– Provide pedestrian connection to Chris Yung Elementary school.
– Identify bus stop location.
– Work with staff regarding tree save area along Linton Hall Road.
– Increase distance between house/lots and the utility easement per staff’s comment.
– Increase the open space to ensure 30% of qualified open space provided.
– Continue to work with Commissioner McKay to address her concerns.

© 2018, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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